March 2nd, 2018
Bobby almost always refers to Dennis Banks as “Mr. Dennis Banks”. Bobby reveres the memory of the man. So do Chief Kindness, Wounded Knee, Yamada, Kid, and anybody else who ever knew him. The spirit of the Native American leader hovers over the Longest Walk. He might not be there in the flesh, but he is definitely present.
Up until now, I knew next to nothing about Mr. Banks. I found out that the man had quite an eventful life. He helped to found the American Indian Movement. He participated in the occupation of Alcatraz in 1969-71, the confrontation with federal law enforcement at Wounded Knee in 1973, and the first Longest Walk in 1978. He kept himself busy. He cared intensely about his people.
Dennis Banks passed over to the other side in October of 2017. People like Bobby grieve for him. Bobby, and the others, had a deep personal relationship with Dennis Banks. He was their mentor and their friend. They follow his guidance, even after his death. The Longest Walk is a continuation of Banks’ work. It is also a tribute to him.
Dennis Banks had to be a remarkable person. He must have been extraordinarily charismatic. People speak about him in the same way that they might talk about Martin Luther King or Gandhi. Their words always convey a sense of awe, and a feeling of love.
I wish that I had met Mr. Dennis Banks.